Of course when you’ve arrived in any city you want to tick of the major sites – in Barcelona it’s got to be the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guel, the galleries of Miro and Picasso and the Arc de Triomf – but half the beauty of going to a new city is to wander through the normal neighborhoods and discover the locals’ city.
That’s where our guide comes in – try some of these ideas to get the most authentic experience in one of Europe’s most beautiful and fascinating cities.
A controvesial one, but the Ramblas is an part of Barcelona that we just don’t really get at Euroventure. It’s basically one really long road with a square at both ends. It’s pretty, and there are some shops on it. But other than that you’re going to pay 4 times as much for a beer and have street sellers trying to ply you with blankets and fake handbags at every step. Much more interesting, we reckon, are the little streets off and around Las Ramblas. Head into the Barrio Gotico leading off to the right for the classic combination of tapas or Paella and ice cold Estrella. The maze of tiny streets between Placa Reial and Placa Jaume I are the perfect place to discover a hidden gem – though use your common sense – if the menu is in 10 different languages the chances are you’re not going to get the most authentic experience! If you’re after a nightcap, try heading to L’Antiquari – an incredibly atmospheric bar tucked behind the cathedral. The clientele are mostly Spanish as it’s a little off the main road (Carrer del Veguer), the view of the cathedral at night is amazing, and they claim their Mojitos are second to none (we can confirm this).
After visiting the famous Park Guel, rather than jumping on the metro home, try walking down the hill towards the centre. This will take you through the beautiful Vila de Gracia district. If you want to experience true Barcelona life, this is the place to go. Through the winding streets you’ll find a mix of ramshackle blocks pressed up against beautiful apartments with balconies, tapas bars, boutiques and markets. This area is home to loads of artists and craftspeople, so take a while wandering around the little shops and galleries, and enjoying the quiet leafy streets. As you walk, you’ll come across more and more cool bars and places to eat, as the residential district merges with the city centre.
A little out of the Centre in the old industrial area of Poblenou, you’ll find an district that’s being revived with some of the most exciting nightlife options in the city. Follow the locals to Razzmatazz – a Barcelona icon, and only a 5 minute stumble from the Bogatell metro stop (3 stops from Jaume I on line 4). Recognisable instantly on a street full of office blocks and building sites, Razzmatazz is 5 floors of incredible music with an amazing roof terrace. It also acts as a live music and arts venue (they had Morrissey last April), so check out its upcoming events before you go.
Among the most interesting places in the city, it’s got to be El Born. Once a fairly run-down area, the ramshackle apartments and windy alleyways of El Born attracted artists and bohemian types creating what is now one of the coolest areas of Barcelona. Full of boutiques, independent restaurants and shops, El Born has it all. Take a wander round the El Born Cultural Centre, just next to the ciutadella park for a taste of the Catalan history which makes Barca unique. And for something traditional but different, try eating Basque style at Euskal Etxea, where you can opt for Pinxos – a kind of tapas – or full meals from the a la carte menu. Afterwards, finish off your meal with a pastry from the Hofmann Patisseria, where you can find some of the best in the city.
Barcelona has so many cool places to discover, so this list is just a start. Obviously the best way to explore off the beaten track is to just to wander around – but for a taster, you can’t go too far wrong with our tips. If you’re still hungry for more, check out our city guide to see just how much this Catalan icon has to offer.